The Best Books About The French Revolution
Best Books, Education, Fiction & Literature, History, Literature, Nonfiction

The Best Books About The French Revolution

“What are the best books about The French Revolution?” We looked at 86 of the top French Revolution books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The 86 best books about the French Revolution are split between fiction and nonfiction titles. The top 9 books, all appearing on 2 or more lists, are below with images, summaries, and additional links to learn more. The remaining books, all appearing on a single list, as well as the lists themselves, can be found in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!

Top 9 Fiction & Nonfiction French Revolution Books

9 .) Citizens by Simon Schama

Lists It Appears On:

  • About
  • Five Books

In this New York Times bestseller, award-winning author Simon Schama presents an ebullient country, vital and inventive, infatuated with novelty and technology–a strikingly fresh view of Louis XVI’s France. One of the great landmarks of modern history publishing

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8 .) City of Darkness, City of Light by Marge Piercy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find

For Claire Lacombe and Pauline Leon, two poor women of eighteenth-century France, the lofty ideals of the coming revolution could not seem more abstract. But when Claire sees the gaping disparity between the poverty she has known and the lavish lives of aristocrats as her theater group performs in their homes, and Pauline witnesses the execution of local bread riot leaders, both are driven to join the uprising. They, along with upper-class women like Madame Manon Roland, who ghostwrites speeches for her politician husband and runs a Parisian salon where revolutionaries gather, will play critical roles in the French people’s bloody battle for liberty and equality.

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7 .) Fatal Purity – Robespierre and the French Revolution by Ruth Scurr

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kate’s Blog
  • About

“Since his execution by guillotine in July 1794, Maximilien Robespierre has been contested terrain for historians. Was he a bloodthirsty charlatan or the only true defender of revolutionary ideals? The first modern dictator or the earliest democrat? Was his extreme moralism a heroic virtue or a ruinous flaw?

Against the dramatic backdrop of the French Revolution, historian Ruth Scurr tracks Robespierre’s evolution from provincial lawyer to devastatingly efficient revolutionary leader, righteous and paranoid in equal measure. She explores his reformist zeal, his role in the fall of the monarchy, his passionate attempts to design a modern republic, even his extraordinary effort to found a perfect religion. And she follows him into the Terror, as the former death- penalty opponent makes summary execution the order of the day, himself falling victim to the violence at the age of thirty-six.”

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6 .) Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

Lists It Appears On:

  • The Guardian
  • Jungle Find

Set during the French Revolution, the tale of the man “who was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” This classic novel of swashbuckling adventure and sweeping romance is also a thought-provoking commentary on class, inequality, and the individual’s role in society―a story that has become Rafael Sabatini’s enduring legacy.

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5 .) The Glass Blowers by Daphne du Maurier

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kate’s Blog
  • The Guardian

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4 .) The Way to the Lantern by Audrey Erskine Lindop

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find

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3 .) The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Flavorwire
  • The Guardian
  • Jungle Find

In this historical adventure set during the French Revolution, the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel sets out to rescue men, women and children facing the horrors of the guillotine, while evading the relentless pursuit of his arch enemy, Chauvelin.

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2 .) A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find
  • Kate’s Blog
  • Flavorwire
  • The Guardian

It is 1789, and three young provincials have come to Paris to make their way. Georges-Jacques Danton, an ambitious young lawyer, is energetic, pragmatic, debt-ridden–and hugely but erotically ugly. Maximilien Robespierre, also a lawyer, is slight, diligent, and terrified of violence. His dearest friend, Camille Desmoulins, is a conspirator and pamphleteer of genius. A charming gadfly, erratic and untrustworthy, bisexual and beautiful, Camille is obsessed by one woman and engaged to marry another, her daughter. In the swells of revolution, they each taste the addictive delights of power, and the price that must be paid for it.

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1 .) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find
  • Kate’s Blog
  • Flavorwire
  • The Guardian

A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same period. It follows the lives of several characters through these events. A Tale of Two Cities was published in weekly installments from April 1859 to November 1859 in Dickens’s new literary periodical titled All the Year Round. All but three of Dickens’s previous novels had appeared only as monthly installments. With sales of about 200 million copies, A Tale of Two Cities is the bestselling novel in history.

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The #10-86 Additional Books About The French Revolution


(Books Appear On 1 List Each)
10A Dish Taken Cold (Otto Penzler Books)Anne PerryJungle Find
11A Far Better RestSusanne Alleyn, Charles DickensJungle Find
12A Sharpness On The Neck (The Dracula Series)Fred SaberhagenJungle Find
13A Treasury of RegretsSusanne AlleynJungle Find
14Annette VallonHistorical Fiction
15Becoming Marie AntoinetteHistorical Fiction
16Before the DelugeMichael SonenscherCoop
17Behind Closed Doors – At Home in Georgian Englandby Amanda VickeryKate’s Blog
18Blundering to GloryOwen ConnellyHistory Monocle
19Confessions of Marie AntoinetteHistorical Fiction
20Contesting the French RevolutionPaul R. HansonCoop
21Days of Splendor, Days of SorrowHistorical Fiction
22El Dorado Further Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)Baroness OrczyJungle Find
23Farewell My QueenChantal Thomas.Madame Guillotine
24French Society in Revolution 1789 – 1799David AndressAbout
25From Deficit to Deluge: The Origins of the French RevolutionT. E. KaiserAbout
26Game of Patience (Aristide Ravel Mysteries)Susanne AlleynJungle Find
27History of the French Revolution from 1789 – 1814Francois MignetKate’s Blog
28IllusionPaula VolskyJungle Find
29InsatiableHistorical Fiction
30Interpreting the French RevolutionFrançois FuretFive Books
31Ladies of the Grand TourBrian DolanKate’s Blog
32Les Liaisons DangereusesPierre Choderlos de LaclosThe Guardian
33London in the Eighteenth CenturyJerry WhiteKate’s Blog
34Madame du BarryHistorical Fiction
35Madame TussaudHistorical Fiction
36Mistress of the RevolutionCatherine Delors.Madame Guillotine
37My Revolution Promenades in Paris 1789-1794Alex Karmel, Restif de la BretonneJungle Find
38Napoleon and his Collaborators: The Making of a DictatorshipIsser WolochHistory Monocle
39Napoleon and the Transformation of EuropeAlexander GrabHistory Monocle
40Napoleon BonaparteAlan SchomHistory Monocle
41Napoleon SymphonyAnthony BurgessThe Guardian
42Napoleon: How to Make WarEdiciones La CalaveraHistory Monocle
43Napoleon’s Letters editedJM ThompsonHistory Monocle
44Ninety-ThreeVictor Hugo, Ayn RandJungle Find
45Our Lady of the PotatoesDuncan SprottThe Guardian
46PureAndrew MillerThe Guardian
47Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French RevolutionIsraelAbout
48Sans-CulottesMichael SonenscherCoop
49Season of LightKatharine McMahon.Madame Guillotine
50The Ancien Régime and the RevolutionAlexis de TocquevilleFive Books
51The Campaigns of NapoleonDavid G. ChandlerHistory Monocle
52The Devil’s LaughterFrank YerbyJungle Find
53The DuelJoseph ConradThe Guardian
54The Elusive Pimpernel (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)Baroness OrczyJungle Find
55The End of the Old Order: Napoleon and Europe, 1801-1805Frederick KaganHistory Monocle
56The English – A Social History 1066 – 1945Christopher HibbertKate’s Blog
57The Fallen Angels A Novel of the French Revolution A Novel of the French RevolutionSusannah KellsJungle Find
58The French PassionDiane DupontJungle Find
59The French Revolution – Rethinking the debateGwynne LewisAbout
60The French Revolution – The Essential Readings editedRonald SchechterAbout
61The French Revolution 1789 – 1799Peter McPheeAbout
62The French Revolution and Napoleonic EraOwen ConnellyHistory Monocle
63The French Revolution Sourcebook editedJohn HardmanAbout
64The French Revolutionary WarsG. Fremont-BarnesAbout
65The FrenchwomanJeanne MacKinJungle Find
66The Gods Are AthirstAnatole France, Alfred AllinsonJungle Find
67The Gods Are Thirsty A Novel of the French RevolutionTanith LeeJungle Find
68The Gods Will Have Blood (Les Dieux Ont Soif)Anatole France.Madame Guillotine
69The Incorruptible; A tale of revolution and royaltyHelma de BoisJungle Find
70The Lacemaker and the PrincessKimberly Brubaker BradleyHistorical Fiction
71The League of the Scarlet PimpernelEmmuska Orczy, Baroness OrczyJungle Find
72The Mind of Napoleon editedJ. Christopher HeroldHistory Monocle
73The New RegimeIsser WolochFive Books
74The Origins of the French RevolutionWilliam DoyleAbout
75The Origins of the French Revolutionary WarsTCW BlanningHistory Monocle
76The Oxford History of the French RevolutionWilliam DoyleAbout
77The Queen’s ConfessionVictoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Jean Plaidy, Eleanor HibbertJungle Find
78The Rose GrowerMichelle de Kretser.Madame Guillotine
79The Sword of SatanH. M. MonsJungle Find
80The Terror in the French RevolutionHugh GoughAbout
81The Terror: Civil War in the French RevolutionDavid AndressAbout
82The Triumph of the Scarlet PimpernelEmmuska Orczy, Baroness OrczyJungle Find
83The War of Wars: The Great European Conflict , 1793-1815Robert HarveyHistory Monocle
84Twelve Who RuledRR PalmerFive Books
85VeroniqueVirginia CoffmanJungle Find
86War and Society in Revolutionary Europe 1770 – 1870Geoffrey BestKate’s Blog

10 Best French Revolution Book Sources/Lists

About Top Books: The French Revolution
Coop French Revolution
Five Books Lynn Hunt recommends the best books on The French Revolution
Flavorwire 5 Unforgettable French Revolution Moments From Literature and Film
Historical Fiction Category: French Revolution
History Monocle A Review of Books about the French Revolution and Napoleonic Eras
Jungle Find Best And The Worst of Fiction set in the French Revolution on Amazon
Kate’s Blog Best Research Books for the French Revolution, chosen by Charlotte Betts
Madame Guillotine Top ten French Revolution novels
The Guardian The top 10 French Revolution novels